Portrait of John, Lord Mountstuart, later 4th Earl and 1st Marquess of Bute

Object Details


Portrait of John, Lord Mountstuart, later 4th Earl and 1st Marquess of Bute


Jean-Étienne Liotard (Swiss, 1702 - 1789)






Pastel on parchment


114.9 x 90.2 cm (45 1/4 x 35 1/2 in.)

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Lord Bute, who commissioned this portrait as a memento of his son's Grand Tour, was so pleased with it that he paid the artist twice the agreed-upon price. Exuding the self-possessed confidence of a young aristocrat, nineteen-year-old Lord Mountstuart leans against a mantel displaying the utmost in sumptuous French attire: a fur-lined winter suit of turquoise silk, lace collar and cuffs, white silk stockings, and diamond-buckle shoes.

Jean-Étienne Liotard depicted the charismatic English nobleman in an elegant setting--a recreation of a salon in Geneva appointed with Rococo furnishings such as firedogs ornamented with cherubs and a Chinese folding screen used to stop cold drafts. Above the mantel, Liotard depicted Mountstuart's handsome profile and dignified posture in a gilded mirror.

Lord Mountstuart, and to a lesser extent his reflection, are sharply depicted and project forward from the surrounding objects, which are blurred to create this optical illusion. This portrait is one of the largest pastels Liotard ever painted and the only one to show a full-length subject in a meticulously described interior. His skillful effects of scale, format, and illusion challenged the conventional medium of oil painting, and Liotard himself considered the work a masterpiece.

1763 -

John Stuart, third earl of Bute, 1713 - 1792, commissioned from the artist, 1763; by inheritance or by gift to his son, John Mountstuart.

- 1814

John Stuart, first marquess of Bute and fourth earl of Bute, 1744 - 1814, by inheritance to his grandson, John Crichton-Stuart, 1814.

1814 - 1848

John Crichton-Stuart, second marquess of Bute and seventh earl of Dumfries, K.T., 1793 - 1848, by inheritance to his son, John Partick Crichton-Stuart, 1848.

1848 - 1900

John Patrick Crichton-Stuart, third marquess of Bute, K.T., 1847 - 1900, by inheritance to his son, John Crichton-Stuart, 1900.

1900 - 1947

John Crichton-Stuart, fourth marquess of Bute, K.T., 1883 - 1947, by inheritance to his son, John Crichton-Stuart, 1947.

1947 - 1957

John Crichton-Stuart, fifth marquess of Bute, K.T., 1907 - 1956, by inheritance to his son, John Crichton-Stuart, 1957.

1957 - 1993

John Crichton-Stuart, sixth marquess of Bute, K.B.E., 1933 - 1993

- 2000

Blondeau Fine Art Services (Geneva, Switzerland), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 2000.

Rome on the Grand Tour (January 8 to August 11, 2002) (no cat.)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), January 8 to August 11, 2002